Recipe: Mayan Stew

The Mayan culture was one of the most important in the history of the New World.  They were the only pre-Colombian civilization to have a full written language.  They built sophisticated urban areas including pyramids that rival those of the Giza plateau.

But it is the Mayan calendar that has most people’s attention these days.  If you believe some apocalyptic theorists the stunningly accurate Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world later this year.  However, that isn’t wholly true.  What it actually predicts is a galactic alignment where the earth, sun and center of the Milky Way Galaxy line-up perfectly.

What does that mean?  No one really knows for sure which is of course the problem.  The last time it happened was 26,000 years ago so it stands to reason that no one living back then is still around to ask about it.  We do know this, however, the earth was engulfed in it’s last major ice age then.

The Mayans had a great abundance of natural food sources to choose from including chilies, sweet potatoes and chocolate.  It was that menu that inspired this stew.  Despite the sweet potatoes and chocolate this isn’t a terribly sweet dish.  Enjoy.

Mayan Stew
Recipe Type: Soup
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 6
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced
  • 1 baking potato, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 dried chili
  • 1 fresh chili like a jalapeno, finely diced and membrane removed
  • 1 cup chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • Water as needed
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can hominy, drained
  • 1 TBL dark chocolate or bitter sweet cocoa powder
  • Salt to taste
  1. In a pot bring the stock and enough water to a simmer to cover the potatoes.
  2. Add to the potatoes salt, onion, both chilies and cook until potato is fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the black beans (with liquid), hominy and cocoa powder. Simmer another 10 minutes. Season to taste, serve and enjoy.

Mayan Stew


Adjust chilies to adjust heat.
The Mayans would not have had access to black pepper but if you want to use it I won’t judge ya.

Going Coastal Recipe: Aztec Hot Chocolate

This recipe is similar to the original chocolate that the Conquistadors discovered when they arrived in ancient Mexico and Central America.  Montezuma purportedly drank fifteen gallons of the stuff everyday to help him service his 15,000 concubines.
Aztec Hot Chocolate
Recipe Type: Beverage
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4-6
This recipe is from my 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award nominated Third Coast Cuisine. You should really buy a copy.
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 chili pepper, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 to 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1/4″pieces
  • 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • l tablespoon almonds or hazelnuts, ground extra fine
  1. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, add chili pepper to boiling water.
  2. Cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup.
  3. Remove chili pepper; strain the water, and set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick until bubbles appear around the edge
  5. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and honey; whisk occasionally until chocolate is melted and silky.
  6. Turn off heat; remove vanilla bean and cinnamon stick.
  7. Add chili-infused water, a little at a time, tasting to make sure the flavor isn’t too strong.

If chocolate is too thick, thin with a little more milk.
Aztec Hot Chocolate

Good Eats Canceled?

Good bye, Good Eats

In the annals of food television there have been five shows that have stood out from the rest by virtue of their importance to the genre.  The first four, I Love to Eat (James Beard), The French Chef (Julia Child), The Galloping Gourmet (Graham Kerr) and Emeril Live (Emeril Legasse) each made their indelible marks on food television by enticing people into their kitchens.

Cheflebrities Stuart Reb Donald and Alton Brown at Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-offThe fifth show, Good Eats, made its mark by teaching burgeoning home gourmets what to do in their new-found playground.  Alton Brown created, wrote, produced and starred in, “a smart and entertaining food show that blends wit with wisdom, history with pop culture, and science with common cooking sense.”  His words not mine.

Recently I heard a rumor that Food Network had canceled Good Eats so I started tugging on various grapevines to see what would shake loose.  My original sources were pretty reliable but I wanted to double-check before reporting something like “Good Eats Canceled.”

I contacted Alton’s publicist, Beau Benton and asked straight out if the rumor was true.  The answer?  No. . . and yes.

No.  Food Network did not cancel Good Eats.

Yes.  The show will soon be ceasing production for good.

The decision was Alton’s.  When I inquired about a press release or official statement Benton said, “He announced it on Twitter.”

Sure enough, “G.E. fans, I’ve decided to cut the half hour series at 249 eps. There will be 3 new 1 hour eps this year and that’s it. But mourn not. New things brew on the horizon…”good” things.”

I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Alton a few weeks ago.  We were both taking part in a fund-raiser in tiny Dauphin Island, Alabama.  Of all of the communities effected by the Oil Spill, Dauphin Island’s economy suffered the most losing 66% of its projected revenue for the summer of 2010 which included cancelling the world’s largest deep-sea fishing rodeo for the first time ever.  Camille, Frederick, Katrina, and Ivan couldn’t do that.  Alton gave of his time to help attract a record crowd to the island’s annual gumbo cook-off.

This is sure to leave Food Network fans feeling shell shocked.  Especially considering the May law suit that has halted production of another long standing hit series Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  If things do not work out in court that means that two of the network’s most popular shows would no longer be a part of their line-up.

Brown will still be on Iron Chef and there are hints of other projects in the works.  Recently, Alton and I got to speak a good bit about, well, everything and he was kind enough to answer 7 Questions. READ HERE.

I saw this Tweet from Tyler Florence to Alton.  It’s hysterical:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/TylerFlorence/status/72821165185441792″]

ICA: Cora vs. Stupak

iron chef America, wannabe tv chef

SPOILER ALERT: This is the recap from

Battle: Chocolate

Chefs: Iron Chef Cat Cora battles Alex Stupak

Stupak is the pastry chef for Wylie Dufresne’s Clinton Street institution WD~50

Full Recap

Theme: Chocolate

Ted Allen
Domenica Catelli
Jeffrey Steingarten

Challenger Stupak’s Dishes
Marinated Bay Scallops w/ Cocoa Lime Vinaigrette
Chocolate Stuffed Quail
Milk Chocolate Pudding
Soft White Chocolate w/ Strawberries
Chocolate Capsule w/ Chocolate Cake

Iron Chef Cora’s Dishes
Seabass Tartare w/ Caviar Chocolate Ganache
Butternut Squash and Chocolate Anglotti
Cocoa and Vanilla Bean Poached Lobster
Rabbit Mole
Chocolate Passionfruit S’Mores
Chocolate Medley

Iron Chef Cora
Taste: 23
Plating: 12
Originality: 11
Total: 46

Challenger Stupak
Taste: 23
Plating: 12
Originality: 14
Total: 49

Winner: Alex Stupak

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

Stu’s Latest Kindle Single is Just $2.99

Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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